Niagara Gazette —
A couple accused of staging a robbery at a CVS store in North Tonawanda last week were in city court Thursday, where they were approved for representation by the Niagara County Public Defenders office.
Police said Kayla Hotaling, 23, of Doebler Drive and her boyfriend, Kevin Spellane-Newman, 24, of Niagara Falls, both of whom are now being held in Niagara County Jail, are facing a rash of charges after they were alleged to have set up an armed robbery that caused nearby schools to go into lockout mode and dozens of police officers to spend much of Oct. 3 searching the area.
Hotaling, whose hair is dyed blue and who was held inside a jury box Thursday wearing a tan jail suit as court proceedings ensued, was said to be the only employee at CVS at about 7:50 a.m., when she called police, told them she was robbed at gunpoint and forced to open a safe, before being struck as the thief escaped.
An area-wide hunt around the Mid-City Plaza on Payne Avenue yielded little as Hotaling was sent to DeGraff Memorial Hospital for her injury. But in a twist released later that day, police called the entire incident a hoax and took her into custody.
Spellane-Newman, was arrested by Niagara Falls police on drug charges and accused of staging the entire incident with Hotaling.
Spellane-Newman, who sat across the courtroom from Hotaling Thursday wearing eye glasses and handcuffs, is facing third-degree grand larceny and fifth-degree conspiracy charges. Hotaling is facing the same charges as well as third-degree falsely reporting an incident.
Judge William R. Lewis said the Niagara County District Attorney's office is currently screening for a grand jury, while Public Defender James Rizzo expressed interest in using Judge Jeffrey N. Mis to oversee the case, without indicating the reasons.
Both are expected to return to city court for an Oct. 17 hearing.